Czechy / Czech
Date of establishing :
folk gothic rock, Gothic Rock
Band members:Petr Stepán - lyrics, vocal, guitar
Pavel Stepán - drums
Martin Soukup - bass
Ollie Ryšavá - keyboard
Biography:The story behind XIII. Století (the 13th Century) began with the punk band HNF (Hrdinové nové fronty) - with a line up consisting of Petr Stepán (lyrics, composer, vocals and guitars) and his brother Pavel (drums). They have recorded "Nova Drakulomania" in late 80s - you can hear punk roots mixed with influences from bands like Bauhaus.
This happened to inspire a new band - XIII. Stoleti. In 1991, the demo material called "Vampir Songs for Agnes" was recorded, being a mixture of coldwave sounds with... saxophone. This release was available only on tapes for a long time, but finally got reissued as a CD under the title "Vampire Songs - tajemství gothických archivů".
The official debut took place in 1992, when the full-length LP "Amulet" got released. Guitar-driven, clearly influenced by Sisters of Mercy, with lyrics full of "gothic" themes - chambers in old castles and mysterious creatures from the 13th century, werewolves and witches, Rosicrucians and demons... "Gotika", issued two years later, might be a suprise. The music changed - it's organized around keyboards, with long, complex tracks, and lyrics containing literary inspirations (Macbeth, The Master and Margaret), but the whole record is a bit chaotic, making us think that the band is still looking for its own path. The result of this search is a masterpiece - 1995 brings "Nosferatu", one of the best records by the band. Petr's lyrics herald the publishing of "Kniha Nosferatu", talking of black magic, fallen angels and secret rituals, while the final track of the album "Květy zla" relates to the famous "Fleurs du mal" by Baudelaire. We also have guest appearances by infamous historical characters, e.g. Torquemada. "Werewolf" arrived in 1996, perceived by many as the definitive masterpiece by XII. Stoleti. Amazing, long and complex tracks take us into the Transylvanian mountains, into the kingdom of werewolves, magical rites, murderers and eternal lovers. It is definitely a "studio" record, especially with an array of additional musicians (we can hear violins, flutes and cellos), so songs from this album are rarely found in live sets. On the other hand, the 1998 "Ztraceni v Karpatech" is filled with great "live" material, with dynamic guitars, with "Elizabeth" - a mischevious tribute track to countess Erzsébet Báthory - became an instant hit, especially with the fans at Castle Party, where the 13th crew played a few times. Spring 2000 brought "Metropolis", similar to some extent to "Gotika", a medley of ballads and dark songs (e.g. "Absinth" dedicated to the legendary drink and the "damned" creators) together with more catchy songs - we also got a few tracks sung in English, e.g. "Bela Lugosi is Dead", originally played by Bauhaus. The compilation album called ""Karneval (Best of Gothic Decade 1991-2001)" came a year later, including songs from previous albums and the title song, previously not available on CD. The band toured its homeland, the Czech Republic, supporting Slade, and on the verge of 2002... decided to take a break for an undefined time. After a period of over a year, XIII. Stoleti came back in the original line up, changing its image - Petr cut his hair and went for a mohawk, while the other members took on a Matrix approach to their looks (some of that is also heard in the new songs). "Vendetta", released in 2004 is rather far from gothic, being more of a typical rock record, with songs in English, punk influences (a cover of a Sex Pistols song), still there's plenty of keyboards present.
The current status of XIII. Stoleti is hard to define. Rumours in 2004 said of the band's break up, but Petr Stepán is probably far from calling it quits. 2005 saw the re-release of "Vampir Songs", and 2006 - a limited edition DVD with a live concert, videos and a picture gallery.
It is worth to mention the book by Petr Stepán, published in 1998 and re-published in 2003. "Kniha Nosferatu (Vampírská bible)" (The Book of Nosferatu - the Vampire Bible) - as the title implies, it is focused on subjects so frequently present in the band's songs. Petr writes about the occult, the influence of the moon, black magic, a vampire cemetery, Dracula, Bela Lugosi... The group's leader is also involved in the creation of instrumental music (e.g. for theatrical performances) and in acting.